For American foreign correspondents The International Herald Tribune was comfort food for the mind. It was a soothing, delightful, informative, relaxing read. It was the paper they always stuck under my door at the old Erawan Hotel in Bangkok when I came out to file my story after a week’s reporting of Cambodia. It was the English language paper I could always find in Lima or Riyadh (although sometimes with Magic Marker deletions) or Jakarta. It was delivered to my home in Tokyo, and I read it even when I lived in London, a city with no shortage of lively English language papers.

The Herald Tribune was indispensable to my mental well-being. I would read every page, sucking up world news, U.S. political intrigue, the columnists , the sports scores, the comics. Finding an old discarded IHT stuck, say, in the seat pocket of the Korean Airways jet was like discovering a forgotten energy bar in the gym bag. It didn’t matter that the issue was several days old; the IHT was one of those rare newspapers that could be read a week after its issue date and still be savored.

Many a foreign correspondent would come back to America and arrange to get the IHT delivered — at considerable cost — to them in the States. “It was our home town newspaper for 25 years,” a retired TIME magazine correspondent once told me. “I still enjoy reading it even here.” Here being the dark-wood splendor of the St. Botolph Club in Boston.

In the decades when I read the paper — from the ’70s through the ’90s — the International Herald Tribune was jointly owned by the Washington Post and the New York Times, but edited, in Paris, by someone usually chosen from outside the two papers. This was supposed to insure neutrality when picking the day’s best stories from the two papers to run in the IHT.

Post and Times correspondents working abroad had a love-hate relation with the IHT. They loved having their stories featured on the front page of the IHT for their foreign sources to read. After all, these were the days before the Web, so what appeared in the Trib carried weight with the Ministries of Information. But they hated the way Paris edited their stories. Most IHT stories ran short, really short, and good and important elements ended up brutally cut. Or so the correspondents always thought.

Recently I spent three weeks travelling in southern Africa and another couple weeks in Eastern Europe. I was looking forward to reading the Herald Trib again. But I came back to Washington disappointed, like someone who made an unhappy trip to visit the folks back home. Had it changed? Had I? Or was it just the times?

In 2002, the Times bought the Post out and took complete control of the paper, retaining the name, but adding the tag “The Global Edition of the New York Times” below the masthead. Perhaps this is part of the trouble. Gone are all those lighter-touch Post stories. Now it’s all heavy-duty Times stories with all their qualifiers and agonizingly long explanation of sources, attribution and historical implications. The IHT seems grayer, duller.

It is true the paper still runs several pages on high fashion, the fine arts, and culture. But the stories on these pages, mostly produced especially for the IHT, had a sort of pretentious tone to them, reflecting. I suspect, the paper’s attempt to appeal to a certain class of readers. While Americans, including business executives, expats, military personnel and even Peace Corps Volunteers when they can afford it, make up some of the readership of the IHT, the large majority of readers are successful — and wealthy — foreign elites eager to keep in touch with American and international trends. Being seen with the IHT — along with the Economist and the Financial Times — is a sign of sophistication in places like Sofia and Gaborone.

If, that is, you can find it. I was shocked that the IHT never popped up in Africa. I am sure it could be found on the Johannesburg airport newsstands, but it no longer has the pride of place it used to have and I did not notice it. Nor did I see it in the business class lounge. It was not on the newsstands of the hotels where I stayed. Ditto for my week in Macedonia: I never saw it. Only in Sofia was it on the newsstand. And when I asked the concierge about it, he pulled a plastic wrapped bundle from below his desk, broke the strap, and asked: would you like one? No one else, it seemed, was interested.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the IHT these days is, well, who needs it? I found myself reading daily news feeds on my iPhone: Mike Allen’s Politico Playbook keeps me up to date on politics. A nifty iPhone app called MLB gave me baseball box scores. I read the Washington Post and the New York Times on my little screen as well.

And I could always flip on the hotel TV where I not only got CNN (just as I always did), but also BBC World, Sky News, Al Jazeera, and even a couple hours of Deutsche Welle News in English. CNBC gave me financial news and ESPN America ran the sports scores, to say nothing of NHL Stanley Cup matches. Suddenly the IHT seems dispensable. A nice piece of dessert — but no longer essential comfort food.